It wasn’t until quite recently—thanks to the recipe I’m going to share with you—that I realized I had no idea what the word “braise” actually means.
In my head, braising meat had something to do with tossing it into a pan and searing it. So when I found a recipe for braised chicken made in the crockpot, I knew either I had to be mistaken about the word’s meaning or the recipe’s author was.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, braise means “to cook slowly in fat and a small amount of liquid in a closed pot.”
So, yeah, I was incorrect.
Apparently, I’ve been braising for years. Who knew?
No matter the definition, the recipe I found comes from the website “Half Baked Harvest” by Tieghan Gerard. (Her site has won a ton of awards, and she has a cookbook coming out, if you have some time to kill online). You can find the original recipe at https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/crockpot-beer-braised-chicken/. I didn’t use a pumpkin beer as she suggested and changed her spices slightly.
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Crockpot Beer Braised Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 andouille sausage links, cut into rounds
1 small onion, diced (I used yellow)
2 red bell peppers, diced
14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
4-ounce can green chile peppers
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used a smoked chipotle Tabasco)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
12-ounces beer (the original uses a pumpkin; I used an Irish red)
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Cooked white or brown rice
Dump the sausage, onion, bell peppers, diced tomatoes (no need to drain), green chile peppers, hot sauce, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, pepper and salt into the crockpot. Give it a little stir to combine a bit and then layer the chicken breasts on top. Dump in the beer and cook on low for about seven to eight hours or four hours on high, making sure the chicken is covered in liquid.
When you’re about 30 minutes from meal time, add the cornstarch and water mixture and stir. Turn the heat up to high if it isn’t already to let the sauce thicken (Mine didn’t thicken much. If you have lots of liquid still in your crockpot, you might want to toss in a bit more cornstarch, but we didn’t mind it having a pretty loose sauce.)
Cook the amount of rice you’ll want for serving.
When the meal is done, serve the chicken, sausage and veggies in bowls over rice.
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The author also suggests serving this with a big piece of crusty bread, which we didn’t do, but it would have been delicious.
We had so much food left over that I ended up freezing a bunch of it for later. It was such an easy recipe without too much prep, which I appreciated.
And now I have a new culinary term to add to my vocabulary. Next, I’ll have to figure out what a gastrique is. I hear it on cooking shows all the time, but up until now I’ve been a little afraid to Google it. I think it might be time.
Lindsey Young is managing editor of The Clarion, the Kansas Publishing Ventures newspaper in Andale. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.